Monday, June 13, 2016

Let's Talk Consent.

In light of a recent court ruling, social media sites have been flooded with memes and graphics about consent. But, I’ve noticed that there seems to be an alarming slant to most of the things being shared.

I want to share four experiences that I have had first hand experience with: 

1.     A five year old being aggressively pursued by a peer. The peer adamantly wanted to kiss the five year old, and ignored the five year old saying “no” multiple times.

2.     A ten year old approached by a peer at a birthday party. The peer offered to remove their clothing multiple times, despite the ten year old saying “no”.

3.     While visiting friends, a seventeen year old woke up while receiving an unrequested intimate massage from a “friend”.

4.     An eighteen year old groped by a stranger, and asked to perform private acts for the stranger.

You might think that event #1 and #2 aren’t “that bad”, but look at the ages. The severity of the offense changes from “childish” to “serious”.

Do you know what these incidents have in common? The five year old, ten year old, seventeen year old, and eighteen year old did NOT consent. They did not say “Please touch me.” They did not say “I’m interested.” They were pursued without regard to their feelings; without respect for their wishes.

Do you know what these offenses do NOT have in common? Gender. The victims were not all females, and the perpetrators were not all males.
Consent is NOT something that we need to teach our sons. It is something we need to teach our children! Sons AND daughters. Girls AND boys.

This is not a gender issue. This is about respecting an individual’s right over his or her own body. That means understanding and teaching that “no” means STOP.
If someone says "no" to tickling, you STOP
If someone says “no” to a hug, you STOP.
If someone says “no” to a kiss, you STOP.
It doesn't matter if that person is two years old, or a hundred and twenty. "No" means STOP.
As adults, it is our responsibility to tell our children “no” means STOP; to show them that “no” means STOP; And to enforce that “no” means STOP.

Stop saying we have to "teach boys better".
Are we really trying to balance the scales of social justice, or are we just trying to flip the scales? Crimes against men can be just as damaging as crimes against women. Yet, we belittle those acts of violence. We pretend they don’t exist. We make offhand comments about “real” men.
Can we stop for a minute, and think about the implications of what we are saying?

Victim to victim, can we get solidarity and support, instead of sexist comments?

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